Lucid Motors sticks to production target despite slow quarter

Lucid Motors has been considered one of the most promising start-ups making electric vehicles. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Lucid Motors, a maker of electric cars seen as a potential challenger to Tesla, said on Thursday (May 5) that it had delivered only a few hundred vehicles during the first three months of the year, but maintained that it was still on track to sell at least 12,000 by the end of 2022.

The company, led by a former top Tesla engineer, has been considered one of the most promising start-ups making electric vehicles (EVs). But it disappointed investors in February when it reported problems making enough cars at its Arizona factory to satisfy demand, and cut its production forecast.

Lucid shares have lost two-thirds of their value since peaking in November. Lucid said it was struggling to acquire the components needed to fulfil reservations it had received for 30,000 vehicles.

"Similar to many companies in our industry, we continue to face global supply chain and logistics challenges, including Covid-19-related factory shutdowns in China," Ms Sherry House, Lucid's chief financial officer, said in a statement on Thursday.

Ms House said that demand for Lucid cars remained strong. An additional 5,000 reservations received since February would, if they become firm orders, translate into US$500 million ($694 million) in additional sales, she said. Lucid delivered 360 vehicles in the first quarter, up from 125 in the previous quarter.

In April, the company delivered 300 cars, a sign that production is accelerating quickly, Mr Peter Rawlinson, who engineered the Tesla Model S before founding Lucid, said on Thursday.

He and Ms House said that supply chain problems are easing. "We actually see a light at the end of the tunnel now," Mr Rawlinson said. The company has suffered from shortages of some commodities, he said, but declined to specify which ones.

The company reported a loss of US$81 million in the first quarter of 2022 on sales of US$58 million. In the same quarter a year earlier, when the company's revenue was negligible, Lucid reported a loss of US$2.9 billion.

Lucid's debut product, the US$169,000 Lucid Air Dream Edition sedan, was named Car Of The Year by MotorTrend magazine, which praised the vehicle's styling, workmanship and range of nearly 837km.

Lucid and Tesla vehicles dominate the Environmental Protection Agency's rankings of most-efficient electric cars. But like many new car companies, Lucid has faced difficulties in ramping up production.

Lucid said on Thursday that it would raise prices for new reservations beginning in June. The most affordable vehicle will cost US$87,400 before government incentives, and the most expensive will be US$179,000. Tesla and other manufacturers of electric cars have also raised prices substantially, pushing the vehicles further out of reach for middle-income buyers.

"We are facing extraordinary inflation pressures, particularly for some raw materials that affect the price of battery cells," Mr Rawlinson said. But he also said he was "incredibly optimistic about the future for EV adoption", because of efficiency improvements that will reduce costs.

With cash reserves of US$5.4 billion from investors, including the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia, Lucid said it has enough money to keep going well into 2023.

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